The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Behold - the killer tire! He'll blow your mind!

Rubber is a movie about a tire that spontaneously comes to life in the middle of the desert and then goes on a rampage, making people's heads explode with its telekinetic powers. You may wonder how a tire could do this. That question is answered by one of the characters, a police officer named Lieutenant Chad (Stephen Spinella), who addresses the camera at the beginning and delivers a long monologue about how there is “no reason” for anything that happens in most movies, including this one. By now, you can doubtlessly tell that Rubber is beyond weird, but if you have a taste for the bizarre, it's also a lot of fun.

The tire (who is credited as “Robert”) rolls its way through the desert, initially blowing up small animals before taking on humans. It comes upon a rundown motel, where it stalks a pretty young woman named Sheila (Roxane Mesquida), murders a housekeeper, and unsuccessfully tries to use the pool. The motel manager's son figures out that the tire is vengeful, then tries to convince others of this fact. Eventually, the cops devise a plan to bring the tire's wrath to an end, which leads to a standoff that can best be described as inspired absurdity.

Rubber, written and directed by Quentin Dupieux, works on a couple different levels. It's a comedy taking the form of a horror film – one that attempts to determine whether or not things like emotion and motivation can be attributed to an inanimate object. For example, there's a scene where the tire catches a glimpse of a nude Sheila; this tire can, in fact, experience lust. Whenever it gets ready to blow someone's head off, it shakes violently. This material is all very funny (or at least it was to me) because Dupieux largely succeeds in anthropomorphizing the tire. As kooky as it sounds, you always know what the tire is feeling or what it wants to do.

The movie also works as an indictment of Hollywood itself. Lieutenant Chad delivers that opening monologue to an audience of spectators standing in the desert with binoculars, watching the “movie” about the tire, just as we are. They serve as a Greek chorus, frequently commenting on the action, until they too become a part of the story they're watching. That plot twist – the specifics of which I won't reveal – combined with the film's final shot, suggest that Hollywood is poisoning moviegoers with dumb, mindless motion pictures that insult everyone's intelligence. You movies about homicidal tires. In other words, Chad represents the studios, with their promises of great entertainment, the killer tire represents the brain-dead movies that actually get churned out, and the spectators represent the audience that gets screwed by inane “product.”

Whether you choose to perceive it as a goof, a satire, or a little of both, Rubber is undeniably audacious. I've never seen anything like it, nor did I know where it was going to take me from one minute to the next. I've said it a hundred times before, but weird goes a long way with me. Rubber made me laugh, occasionally quite hard. It's in select theaters now, but also available On Demand. If weird is also your taste, you've got to see this one.

( out of four)

Rubber is rated R for some violent images and language. The running time is 1 hour and 23 minutes.